Has anyone ever invited amateur and pro photographers to take pictures of the same environment (or people) using the same gear to compare the results? If so, maybe results of such experiment are available on some sites for everyone to see?

For example how would fashion magazine photos would look like if they were taken by amateurs, or how would a pro take a regular picture of a person on the street with amateur gear.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ It is a powerful exercise to have different people photograph the same subject, regardless of whether they are professional or amateur. It is surprising (and stimulating) to see the many different interpretations of the same subject. But, sticking to your question, the biggest difference between professionals and amateurs lies not so much in their cameras, but in their lighting and studio equipment. This is a decisive advantage for things like fashion photography. \$\endgroup\$
    – labnut
    Jan 15, 2011 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a perfect answer for your question miningindustrialphotographer.com/crappy-vs-snappy \$\endgroup\$
    – user19953
    May 16, 2013 at 4:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ i would like to see some photographic examples of amateur (ie mobile phone photos) versus studio photography. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2018 at 4:49

5 Answers 5


To be honest, a good amateur takes the same or better than photos of a professional. It's 2010 so there's so much information available to the public, and with the falling prices of photography equipment there's really no difference between a good amateur and pro.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For a good majority of pros, the difference is less artistic/technical and more just business sense. Most of the work of a professional photographer doesn't involve the camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – chills42
    Jul 24, 2010 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ depends on the requirements of the image. I print platinum with dig negs and the megapixels of a phase one back would be required to do large images (i.e. like 20x24) at 360 lpm with a single image. This is something a pro (i.e. fine arts pro) might do that would be VERY different. Also, the larger cameras and lenses give a different feel on the image. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin Won
    Jan 14, 2011 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes and no. The sole difference between the pro and the amateur is that the pro gets paid for what he does, the amateur doesn't. The pro will create what sells, if that means specific criteria for quality and composition need to be met he'll meet those, whether those lead to an image that taken alone would look "good" or not. Say he needs to create an image that fits on the right side of a page, leaving 50% free on the left for text, of a female figure drawing attention to her clothes. He'll do that despite it not being "correct" according to the books. \$\endgroup\$
    – jwenting
    May 16, 2013 at 8:34

It's a regular feature in several magazines, and occasionally these things happen by chance. For example, I bumped into Will Cheung when I was shooting this -- I'd taken this other shot and Will followed my lead and featured his copy of the photo in Photography Monthly a couple of months later. I was torn between being proud that he'd taken inspiration from my shot, and that he'd stolen my idea...


The only difference between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer is a willing buyer.

While it is true that most professionals use higher end gear than most amateurs, this is not always the case. There are many working photographers who are paid for what they do and many amateurs who produce mediocre content. There are many amateurs who do it purely for the love of it (the latin word amor (love) is the etymological root of amateur) as well as professional who produce outstanding, creative images.


Good question.

As a premise, I say that every opinion is obviously subjective. What I consider "wonderful", may be "ugly" for someone else.

Anyway, I don't know if there's a website with such a comparison, but it's easy to make it: just do a search on Flickr or any other photo sharing service of the same subject with the same camera and gear.

For example, take:



(sorry, can't post more than one link for this stupid spam filter)

It's the Colosseum (an Italian monument, if you live on the Moon and don't know it :).

The first was taken with a Canon 5D, one of the best cameras on the market, the second with the less powerful 30D. But, you see, the second photo is much more interesting and visually pleasing.

Or even, you can see here another interesting and suggestive shot. And, believe it or not, it was taken with an Apple iPhone. That is just a cellphone, after all.

So, in my opinion, you can take beautiful shots with simple gear and ugly ones with top-rated cameras. It's the photographer that makes the photo, not viceversa.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the terms "amateur" and "professional" were in reference to the person taking the photo not the equipment. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2011 at 22:29

Well, it's 2018 and to provide an actual answer to the question, please see this PetaPixel article entitled Pro Photographers with Amateur Gear vs. an Amateur with Pro Gear

My personal opinion: The gear itself is no longer a limiting factor in the image creation process. I recently took my 5dMkII to Iceland and took some shots in an ice cave. Nothing to write home about. Then I took some shots for a fellow tourist with his 5dMkIV - and was blown away by the high ISO noise, specifically, the lack thereof. The point: technology has come a very long way - we now have sensors that can out-resolve lenses, and very good tech is available now cheaper than ever.

So, what makes a pro? IMO - consistency of results is what makes a pro, a pro (in addition to selling your work. Yes, I believe that you don't get to call yourself a pro until you start selling your services).

A pro is going to go to their event, whether it's a wedding, sports, fashion shoot, etc. and they're going to perform.

I have seen pros that don't know enough about lighting to be able to be transplanted into a different environment, but I'd say that this isn't a credible scenario. What I mean is, I've seen pros who excel in natural light and focus on taking portraits early and late in the day. But when asked to shoot at midday and given some strobes and a scrim, they falter, having never relied on overpowering the sun or using the sun as fill.

However, this scenario does not hurt their ability to get consistent results in their own environment. And it creates the skill overlap between pros and amateurs - as there are many amateurs that could not only give consistent results, but who also know enough to tackle a change of scenery (albeit, they'd be pros if they were selling their services).


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